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Acadia ... 1749 to 1755
 
 
    Halifax was founded and plans for English settlers were being made.  Lawrence was waiting for the opportunity to rid the colony of the Acadians. 
The final days ...
     Halifax was founded in 1749 and was the governmental headquarters.  From Halifax to Minas was only a trail.  Jean Melanson (from Canard) and Claude LeBlanc (from Grand Pre) made the trip in a few days to speak to Cornwallis on behalf of the people.  They found that they were supposed to bring a proclamation back to their people and make it public.  They had to take the oath without restriction.  The deputies (representatives) from all areas returned to respectfully say no.  Cornwallis said everyone had to take it without exception by Oct. 26 or lose their rights and property. The deputies went to the people, told the news, and reported to Cornwallis in a few weeks.  What they brought back was a paper with a thousand “signatures” referring to the previous oath and how well they’ve “behaved” since then. 
     It repeated their fear of the Indians and asked if they could take the same oath as taken under Philipps; otherwise they wanted to leave the country.  Cornwallis was harsh about it.  He wrote to the Lords of Trade saying he would use the Acadians while they were there.  And he prevented the Acadians from leaving. 
     The French were building a fort at Beausejour. They got Abbe Le Loutre to try to talk the Acadians into moving to French territory.  The Acadians were concerned about  Cornwallis’plans.  Actions by the French got some Acadians to join the Indians in acting against the English.  It was too late in the year for a general withdrawal, though some left. [Herbin, 80]
     The English sent ~100 men to Minas under Captain Handfield to prevent Acadian movements.  It was too late to build barracks, so they enclosed 3 houses, in a triangular picketing with half bastions, on a hill.  A blockhouse from Port Royal had been brought and set up in the camp.  The “fort” was known as Vieux Logis.  The people helped provide for the soldiers, helped poorer settlers build houses at Halifax, and cleared a road to Halifax about 18’ wide. [Herbin, 81] 
     In October 1749, 300 Indians (spurred on by the French) blockaded the Minas fort so the Acadians could leave; shots were fired, but no one was killed.  But the people wanted to wait to hear from the governor, so the Indians left.  The Indians surprised an 18 man group led by Capt. Hamilton and took them and notary Leblanc with them.  By 1750, a fort (Ft. Edward) had been built at Pisiquid.  Cornwallis still wanted them to take the oath, and they still wanted to leave the country.  

     The English began importing settlers in 1750, but they had to be kept in the Halifax area until the Acadian issues could be solved. In late 1751, after years of service and in ill health, Gov. Cornwallis resigned as governor. In August 1752, Col. Peregrine Thomas Hopson - the former commander at Louisbourg who had been at Chebucto since 1749 -took over as governor. He sent most of the German settlers to Merliguish (which was renamed Lunenburg) in 1753. (NSHS, V. 1)
    The Acadians were raising much more crops than  they needed.  Vieux Logis was falling apart, so the men were sent to Fort Edward. [Herbin, 82]
     Hopson recognized the problems the Acadians had with the oath, and knew how important the Acadians were to the country.  He made a treaty with the Indians, and would have helped the Acadians’ situation, but he had to retire as governor after 15 months due to health problems.  He had laid out rules for the fair treatment of Acadians ... that they should be treated as well as other subjects of England. [Herbin, 83] 

     Hopson was replaced by Charles Lawrence. Many documents show that Lawrence had desires to get rid of the Acadians.  He used the acts of individuals to make charges against the whole population.  He revoked Hopson’s orders (ie. not to use military force if they refused to comply).  One example was that if an Acadian was ordered to get firewood, and he didn’t do it promptly ... his house would be used for fuel. 
     About 3,000 made their way to the northwest.  Besides pressure from Lawrence, the Acadians had heard reports that Governor Shirley planned to take some of their land and settle Protestants among them, and offering privileges to the French who would convert.  He had even sent a report to England on how to convert them to Protestantism. 

     Many documents show that Lawrence had desires to get rid of the Acadians.  The acts of individuals were charged to the whole population.  The English openly stated their fear that the Acadians would join arms with the French. But the fact is that the English just wanted to get rid of the Acadians. When a number of Acadians were caught fighting with the French, it provided the incentive for Charles Lawrence to start the ball rolling. He revoked Hopson’s orders (ie. not to use military force if they refused to comply).  One example was if ordered to get firewood, and they didn’t do it promptly ... use their houses for fuel.    [Herbin, 86]
     On June 6, 100 men from Ft. Edward went to Grand Pre and split up, 2 to a house.  They seized all arms and ammunition (and faced no resistance).  Then the soldiers sailed back to Ft. Edward with the stuff.  The Acadians didn’t know what was behind this ... at least not yet.  Actually, only 1/5 of the quantity was found.  Soon after, an order was given for Acadians to give up their arms at Ft. Edward, and 2,900 were turned in.  They then sent a petition to Lawrence. [Herbin, 87]
     It notes that they could no longer take corn by ship because the English think they might be bringing corn or other supplies to Beasejour or St. John.  They said they weren’t to blame if some people from Beaubassin were moving their cattle.  It notes how their canoes were taken, and they would like them back for fishing.  Then the poor could support their families with fish.  They also note the taking of their guns, which they needed to protect their cattle from wild beasts and to protect their families.  If someone had oxen in the woods, he would think of going get them without something to defend himself. [Herbin, 88]
     It notes that since the Indians have left, wild beasts have increased and cattle are eaten by them every day.  They also needed guns for protection from Indians.  They were also upset at being declared guilty without even knowing what was done. Pierre Melanson of River Canard was on his boat (having not heard of an order to forbid it) and was seized.  They wanted to be informed when (and why?) he wanted to confiscate their property.   They heard that the governor ignored the petition, so they drew up another on June 24, 1755.  They were very polite, even apologizing for being so timid in his presence. [Herbin, 89]
     They offered to explain the petition to him.  The petition was signed by 44 people from Minas, Canard, and Piziquid. 
     Lawrence accused the Acadians of aiding Indians (though the Indians had left the area and were in New Brunswick).  The Indians had harassed the Acadians because they seemed too nice to the English.  Some Acadians had gone to help the French, but only under penalty of death.  For 40 years they couldn’t get titles to their land, or get any more land. [Herbin, 90]
     They had produced tons of produce.  There were 2 churches.  Lawrence asked them to take the oath.  They asked to go talk with the people, but were told that they had 24 hours to decide.  He sent word to Murray at Piziquid, to get the Acadians at Minas to get new deputies, and if the oath weren’t taken ... he’d remove them from the Province. 
     The priests and the archives had been carried off by the English.  Lawrence had hidden his plans from the English government till it was too late for them to stop him.  He told the Lords of Trade that if the Acadians refused to take the oath, he’d send them to France.  An answer from England was 3 months away. [Herbin, 91]
     On July 5, 100 delegates went to Lawrence with a petition (signed by 203) saying that they’d only take the oath given in Philipp’s day, and not any other.  They were put in prison (until after the deportations started). 
     Abbe Daudin relates [the book has a long excerpt] that the only time the English had been talking to Acadians was to tell them that their days were numbered ... that destruction awaited them.  But they still hoped for the best.  “Prayer was the only weapon they used against the English.”  After Beausejour was taken, the English would have them go to the fort on holidays and sharpen instruments ... telling them that one day they’d be used on them. [Herbin, 92]
     He says that when the 100 got to Halifax, they were told that no statements would be heard from them.  They were simply asked “Will you or will you not swear to the King of Great Britain that you will take up arms against the King of France, his enemy?”  They responded, since they could only answer yes or no, it was a unanimous no.  They added that taking such an oath would also tend to “despoil” them of their religion and everything else.  Immediately the 100 were taken to an island off of Halifax and imprisoned till the end of October.  Lawrence thought this would weaken them, but it didn’t.  He would go out to the island carrying tools of torture (to scare them).  He was like a tyrant.  One of them said “... we have God for us, and that is enough.”  When Lawrence threatened him with a sword, he presented his chest and said “Strike, sir, if you dare; I shall be the first martyr of the band;  you can kill my body, but you shall not kill my soul.”  In a frenzy, Lawrence asked the others if they felt that way, and they said with one loud voice “Yes, sir!” 
     The English carried off the priests, raised the English flag above the churches, and used them for barracks.  The priests were insulted and mocked for 45 minutes when they got to Halifax. [Herbin, 93]

     On July 28, 1755, Lawrence and the council decided to deport the Acadians.  Since troops from New England were in the area (they had helped to capture  Beausejour), he sent a note to Moncton letting him know that as soon as the transports  (which had been ordered) arrived. [Herbin, 94]

The 1755 Exile, as will as the 1758 Exile, are covered in the following section.

Continue to The Exile

Acadia: 1632-1653 * 1654-1670 * 1671-1689 * 1690-1709 * 1710-1729 * 1730-1748 * 1749-1758
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